Riding a train in India is always an experience. Exhilarating, harrowing, communal or deathly tedious - the experiences vary, but the ride is almost always memorable. Back in my old wanderlust days, after college and before children, I was hardy or foolish enough to withstand journeys spread over days in third class carriages fitted out with little more than padded wooden benches. I remember compartments brimming over with people and the remarkably courteous, almost genteel, way that we all cohabited in that tiny space. There were seemingly endless stretches of time when a train would stop in some barren, dry landscape. Of course, there were no announcements as to why or for how long. Local villagers would appear as if out of the shimmering air, bearing food and trinkets to sell to the passengers. Hours later, the train would give a lurch and resume its slow pace toward its destination.
Once, on the way to the holy city of Varnasi, after several days and many delays on the rails, I was startled when everyone suddenly became quite animated. People seemed to have fallen into a group ecstasy (sans the drug) as various chants rose up while the windows were opened and a shower of coins directed outward. This was not just some unfelt ritual formality, because there was an inescapable fervor in the air and a rapturous look in people’s eyes.
It turns out we were passing over the Ganges River, the heavenly Ganga which is personified in the Hindu religion as a goddess. It is said to have been created from the sweat of Vishnu, the ‘Preserver’ one of the three main Hindu Gods (along with Brahma, the creator and Shiva, the destroyer). The faithful believe that bathing in the river will wash away one’s sins and that if the ashes of the dead are scattered in its waters prospects for the next life will be enhanced.
The harrowing part is getting on and off the trains, at least the local ones in the Mumbai area. My first exposure to this ordeal 20 years ago was nearly fatal. Having grown up with the Long Island Railroad and New York commuter lines, as well as a veteran of nearly a decade in Japan handling everything from the ultra-urban experience of sardine can packed commuter cars to the renowned Bullet trains, I thought I could handle just about anything.
But the rush of the crowd on a Mumbai platform was of a different order of intensity altogether. As I was standing in the midst of the crowd waiting for the train to stop, the doors to open and the passengers to disembark, there was a sudden surge forward that nearly pushed me to the ground - or even worse, into the space between the platform and the door. It was all I could do to grab onto something - I don’t recall whether it was the door or somebody’s leg, to withstand the force. I didn’t make it onto that first train, but being so forewarned, I boarded the next one with all the tact of a football fullback crashing into a defensive line of 300-pound behemoths.
One of the factors that aggravate this problem is that, for whatever reason, these local trains only stop for a matter of seconds at each station before taking off again. There isn’t much time to make a move and certainly no room for any politesse. So intense is this phenomena that there are special cars set aside for women and young children, to allow them to avoid the worst of it.
It wasn’t but ten days ago, back in Mumbai for a homeopathic conference, that once again after all those years, I was standing on a station platform, bracing myself to gain entry onto one of those trains. I was on my way to visit a family in Pune, a city of a million and a half, famous as the hill station to which the British would escape from the unbearable heat and humidity of Bombay and, in more recent times, a renowned as a center for higher education and scientific research, as well as being the home of Osho’s (who used to be known as Rajneesh) ashram.
As the train pulled into the station, my mistake this time was that though prepared for the soon to occur scrum, I didn’t look where I was going as I climbed into the carriage. Fortunately, I hadn’t gotten into the women’s compartment, but neither had I gotten into the regular commuter car with seating. Instead, I found myself in something akin to a cargo hold filled with men transporting all manners of items ranging from huge burlap bound parcels down to trays of cheap consumer knickknacks.
They, of course, were as startled as I was to suddenly be in their midst. These were obviously men belonging to lower castes, and many Indians, let alone foreigners, would never have sat with them. But sitting wasn’t an option anyhow; there were too many bodies and too many parcels. It was dank and odiferous, but I did find an overhead handle to support myself.
At every stop a chaotic rush of men and their belongings would simultaneously get on and off the train. I only sought to stand my ground; the train stops were too short to consider changing compartments. While some of my fellow travelers were obviously amused by my presence, others seemed more annoyed that I was taking up valuable space. And, as it almost always seems to happen, one kind soul wanted to make a space on the bench for me to sit. It was too difficult to climb over the obstacles to move the few feet to where he beckoned. I mouthed a “thank you” over the din, and held onto until I reached the terminal station.
The train brought me to Chattrapati Shivaji Terminal, one of the grandest architectural legacies of British rule, which until recently was known as Victoria Terminal. I transferred to a long distance train, the ‘Pragati Express’, for which I had purchased a reserve seat (after waiting on a line for upwards of an hour) a few weeks earlier.
Like Victoria Terminal, the Indian railway system is a legacy of the British and this vast network is at the heart of the transportation system for this nation of over 1 billion people. One of its enduring romances is the name given to each train, which somehow imparts a soulful history to these iron beasts. The names range from the straightforward geographical (Bangalore Mail, Howrah Mail, or Delhi Express) to the exotic sounding (Janmabhoomi Express, Mangala Lakshadweep Express, Swatantrata Sainani Express (Freedom Fighters Express) to the alluring (Pink City Express, Steel City Express, Tea Garden Express, Viceroy's Toy Train). It sure beats “Amtrak #422.
One of the most remarkable things about India in general is that despite an overall impression of disarray verging on chaos, somehow there emerges an unseen order. The perception may be anarchy, but it is a functioning anarchy - though it doesn’t always function in a way that we in the West may be accustomed.
The Pragati Express was a very highly functional train indeed. As it pulled up to the platform, railway men rushed up to its side with glue rollers and large sheets of paper. In a flash, passenger lists with names, birth dates and seating were pasted next to the entrance to each car. On boarding the train, I was more than a little appreciative of its cool air and the relatively spacious, padded seat, especially after the hot and thoroughly uncomfortable first leg of the journey.
Just as I was beginning to revel in having the entire row of seats to myself, a man claiming the seat next to mine squeezed past me. He was of small stature, rounded features, just a little shy of chubby, carried a briefcase and otherwise unremarkable . Not long after train pulled out of the station, he leaned toward me and asked the usual opening question posed to foreigners: “From which place do you come?” Like most people, he wanted to know where in the United States - and like most Indians, “Vermont” proved to be a little too esoteric a location. But he was very satisfied to know I lived somewhere between Boston and Montreal.
In fact, it seems that my new neighbor had recently planned to visit Boston for a conference, but had declined because he couldn’t get away from work. He regretted his inability to attend and hoped to go next year. But he was recently returned from Paris where he attended another conference and had received an award. In fact, he was just now returning from a trip to Mangalore - a city in southern India - where he had also been presented an award.
I was a tad leery of these claims; experience has taught me not to be too gullible when dealing with strangers in India. But my wariness began to soften when he spoke of the flight number and schedule of his Air India to Paris; it was the same flight I took to Mumbai and was to take home, both of which had a stopover in Paris As my train mate began to explain his work and pull from his briefcase a wad of scientific papers he had published, there was no doubt that he was telling the truth.
In fact, Dr. Absar Ahmad was indeed a biochemist and an expert in and enthusiastic promoter of nanotechnology. He worked in the Biochemical Sciences Division at the National Chemical Laboratory in Pune, which, when I looked at its web page some weeks later, is an “interdisciplinary research centre with interest in polymer science, organic chemistry, catalysis, materials chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemical sciences and process development.”
It is staffed with some 900 scientists and “publishes the second largest number of papers in chemical sciences (~ 350), files the largest number of patents, both in India (~50) and abroad (~120) and produces the largest number of PhDs in Chemical Sciences in India.”
Nanotechnology, I learned on my ride to Pune, will more than likely have the same dramatic impact on our lives in the near future as the computer technology and the information age has had over the last 2 decades. Basically, the term refers to research and technology with very small sized objects, i.e. at the atomic or molecular levels.
To put it another way, the scale of this technology is somewhere on the order of 1 to 100 millionths of a millimeter. A ‘nanometer’ is defined as 1 billionth of a meter, or 1 millionth of a millimeter. To understand this a bit better consider that approximately 26 millimeters equals one inch and that a human hair has a diameter of somewhere around 9/100 of a millimeter. Red blood cells are enormous compared to nanoparticles: .002 to .005 millimeters or 2 to 5 thousand nanometers. When we get down to the diameter of DNA, at 2 to 12 nanometers, we’ve entered the nanotech range.
Even though the technology is in its infancy, nano-sized materials are already used in electronics, biomedicine and pharmacology, and cosmetics, to name just a few areas. Making or manipulating things so small - essential controlling the world on an atomic scale - opens up all sorts of technological possibilities.
One of the main areas of application is in medicine where researchers hope to develop things like nano-sized machines to run through blood vessels, cleaning them as they go; or send out nanoparticles that find and destroy cancer cells; or produce nanoparticles that repair damaged tissue at wound sites, impaired organs or perhaps missing limbs.
This, in fact, was Dr. Ahmad’s area of research. More specifically, he was involved with the nanotechnolgical manipulation of various forms of fungi, which could then be magnetically directed to tumor sites where they would dissolve malignant tissue.
Dr. Ahmad was not an imposing figure, but his eyes glowed with excitement as he described his work to me. “This will totally change the way we can treat many difficult diseases like cancer. Nanoparticles attached to fungi can be directed to a specific part of the body - or drawn there by applying an external force like a magnet - perform specific tasks.” I had to suppress a laugh as the vision of Woody Allen, shrunken to microscopic size, floating around inside a human body in his 1970’s movie “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex”, came to mind.
On finding out that I was a homeopath, he enthusiasm was even greater. “Have you ever thought about using nanotechnology for a homeopathic medicine? It could be targeted for any tissue or organ in the body that you want to treat... We could do research together. I’m sure there are grants available for such research.”
I was caught off guard by his offer. To begin with, it is nearly unimaginable that a biochemist at a major research institute in the West would feel collegial toward a homeopath. More than likely, on finding out that they were speaking with one would be a conversation stopper right there because the principles and practice of homeopathy are antithetical to just about every fundamental premise of chemistry.
On some level, his proposal pleased and validated me. More importantly, it taught me something about the Indian mind, or at least, the one that sat next to me. In the West, science and medicine are monolithic. Scientific truths are the Truth and there really is only one acceptable system of medicine - everything else is “alternative” or “complimentary”.
But in India, where there are dozens of native languages, numerous indigenous ethnic and religious identities, and a dominant religion which itself has hundreds of Gods, there is a greater acceptance of multiplicity and even contradiction. In the West, the attitude is exclusivity; in India it is inclusivity. That is why homeopathy, a non-native system of medicine introduced to India in the 19th century, has prospered to the extent that there are some 180,000 practitioners, all graduates of homeopathic medical colleges, in the country today.
Of course, on another level, Dr. Ahmad’s proposal seemed absurd. After all, the most defining characteristic of homeopathic medicines is that they have no physical structure that we know of at all besides the water that carries them. I carefully explained this to him, how our medicines are produced through a series of one to a hundred dilutions until not one molecule of the original substance remains. Homeopathic remedies are pure energy, so how can we attach them to a nanoparticle?
Moreover, in homeopathy the objective is to achieve a cure by stimulating the inherent vitality - or “Vital Force” - of the patient, which entails treating the entire organism. While a particular disease may appear in a localized area, the homeopathic remedy affects the entire body. Even if it were possible to attach the remedy to a nanoparticle, directing it to a particular part of the body would not necessarily enhance the treatment.
But the good Doctor seemed undeterred. It was almost as if he had not fully heard or comprehended my misgivings. Instead he was focused on the research itself. “The key thing is to be the first! No one has done this before. Surely there will be money available to fund it. You have that organization there in the States, the NIH (National Institute for Health) - talk to them...”
He had pulled from his briefcase a thick folder full of scientific papers he had co-authored and several certificates of appreciation and awards he had received at various conferences. “You see the rewards of doing such research. It is not the money - I don’t care much about money as long as I have the funding for my research. It the excitement of discovering something, of doing something new, of thinking about all the possibilities... And then there is the recognition that comes with it.”
Though still rather dubious about the prospects of homeopathic nanotechnology, I was learning a lot about Dr. Ahmad and feeling confident about what type of homeopathic remedy he might need if he were ever to become ill. In fact, it was as actually rather uncanny how just days before I had been immersed in the study of a series of remedies that have a great deal to do with a man like Dr. Ahmad. It was as if an apparition or figment of my imagination had followed me out of that seminar room and onto the train.
One of the most alluring aspects of homeopathy is the way in which our remedies correspond to various personality types. In actuality, “personality” is not the most accurate word because what homeopaths are really looking to perceive in their patients, and what the accurate choice of a remedy reflects, is both more comprehensive and deeper than a ‘persona’ per se.
It is a state of being which manifests as a way of existing in the world that expresses itself physically, emotionally and mentally. This state is often referred to as the “constitution” and the endeavor of finding a remedy that precisely matches the constitution of an individual is, not surprisingly, called “constitutional homeopathy.” This is in contrast to other ways of employing homeopathic remedies, which can also be effective when used on a symptomatic basis (i.e. to relieve a particular symptoms without considering the state of the person as a whole) or as detoxifying agents.
The choice of remedies based on the state of the entire person was described by the founder of homeopathy some two hundred years ago, and has always been its highest goal because it promotes the deepest and most permanent type of healing.
But even at the outset, this has never been an easy task. Over the years, as our understanding of the multiplicity of constitutional states has increased, the process of eliciting the necessary information to make an accurate choice (what homeopaths call “taking the case”) has evolved into a sometimes quite lengthy and artful procedure. Parallel to this, as the number of known remedies has proliferated into the thousands, the choice of the single most appropriate one has relied on a combination of plain facts, the powers of observation and data analysis.
As of late, one of our most useful tools has been the classification of homeopathic medicines according to their natural history. Broadly speaking, the vast majority of homeopathic remedies derive from plant, mineral or animal substances - although a small number made from magnetic fields, sunlight, moonlight, electricity are not as easily classified, and are thus known as “Imponderables.” The idea is that remedies of a similar physical nature will share similar curative attributes. Two remedies from the same plant genus will be much more alike than, let’s say, a remedy of that genus and one derived from the venom of a snake.
Considering the enormous - and ever growing - number of homeopathic remedies available, it simplifies the task of choosing the correct remedy if we can first identify which class of remedies a particular patient needs and then hone in on the information necessary to further refine the search to a particular remedy from that class.
While the rudiments of remedy classification can be found in the writing of some homeopaths from the 1800s, it was not until about a decade ago that this idea caught hold and began to evolve. Up to that point, most modern homeopaths were not trained to think in terms of remedy classes and thus were unfamiliar with the concept.
In the early 1990’s, Jan Scholten, a Dutch homeopath with an academic background in chemistry, published groundbreaking ideas on homeopathic remedies derived from mineral substances that not only stimulated a revolution in our understanding of the known mineral remedies, but also introduced many hitherto little known or totally unknown ones into the homeopathic materia medica. Moreover, he delineated how this rather large class of remedies could be broken down into subclasses and clarified their related to each other.
From the outset, mineral remedies have always played an important role in homeopathy. Mercury, Sulphur, Calcium carbonate, Phosphorus, Arsenic, Graphite, Sodium chloride, to name just a few have been some of the most commonly used of our remedies. What Scholten proposed and showed with clinical cases was that every element in the Periodic Table - over 100 in number, 92 of which occur naturally - not only could be used as a remedy, but that their salts, that is the chemically possible combinations of the elements, which must run in the thousands, are also potential homeopathic medicines.
In the physical sciences, ‘elements’ are those substances which cannot be broken down into simpler substances and which individually or in combination constitute all matter. The Periodic Table is a mid-19th century creation that organized the elements based on their atomic numbers (the number of protons in an atom of a particular element). It is basically a chart with 18 rows across and 7 rows down.
Scholten proposed a brilliant outline of how the mineral remedies were clinically and theoretically related to each other based on their positions on the Periodic Table itself. His work, in a way mirrored that of the German and Russian co-creators of the Table, Lothan Meyer and Dmitry Ivanorich Mendeleyev, because just as they predicted that hitherto unknown elements with specific properties would be discovered to fill up the empty slots on the table, Scholten predicted that elements never before employed homeopathically could be used and he outlined their prospective curative properties.
The work of Scholten was taken up and further developed by many homeopaths around the world, including my teachers in Mumbai who I had just visited. My understanding of the homeopathic state of my traveling companion was based on this homeopathic interpretation of the Periodic Table.
Three important concepts underlie this evolution in thinking. One is that all the mineral substances and their salts are potentially effective homeopathic medicines, if only they were to be properly understood. Secondly, mineral remedies all share certain characteristics that differentiate them from remedies derived from other sources, such as plant or animals. And thirdly, the the mineral remedies can be broken down into subclasses each with its own characteristic and curative actions that are based on their chemistry.
The chemistry and mutual relationship of the elements is graphically illustrated by the periodic table, traditionally a 2 dimensional grid with 7 rows and 18 columns. Positions on the grid are occupied by elements with predictable characteristics in terms of the number of protons (the atomic number), atomic mass and electron configuration.
Similar to chemistry, where elements of the same row or same column share certain characteristics, mineral remedies belonging to the same row or column have similar characteristic properties that distinguish them from remedies of the other rows or columns.
A most remarkable, even visionary aspect of Scholten’s understanding of the mineral remedies is that their sequence, starting from the upper left corner with Hydrogen (atomic mass of 1) in the first column of the first row down to the radioactive elements (atomic masses of 87 and above) that occupy the seventh row, parallels the development of a human being from the point of conception to the point of death. The development is not merely physiological but also social. In a bow to Joseph Campbell, some have termed it a hero’s journey.
To select an appropriate homeopathic mineral remedy, the practitioner must answer a series of questions: 1) Does the patient display the characteristics of a mineral? 2) Do the particular characteristics clustered around a single theme or are there 2 or more themes? Then, for each theme, 3) To which row (or “series”) does it belong? 4) And to which column ( or “stage) does it belong?
The chief characteristic that identifies an individual as needing a mineral remedy relates to a feeling of deficiency. The person feels a fundamental lack of capacity to perform in some area of life. The specific area for each individual ranges widely. One person feels inadequate to the task of making a living, another feels inadequate in forming relationships with others, a third person feels incapable of just existing as an independent individual in the world.
The particular area will determine the row (question 3), but the common denominator is this feeling that the way they are put together is insufficient on some level. The word ‘structure’ is closely associated with the mineral remedies. People who need them are grappling with a sense of deficiency in their internal structure and therefore tend to desire outward it outwardly. Thus, they commonly are organized and systematic about the way they go about life.
This sense of inadequacy or deficiency may or may not be something of which the individual is conscious. It is not a psychological trait per se, it is neither an emotional trait nor a result of past experience. It is more fundamental than that: in a sense, it is the way that person is put together. To the outsider, the area of inadequacy is usually hard to discern. In fact, the outward appearance might be quite the opposite. For instance, a person who fundamentally insecure when it comes to finances might very well be a highly successful businessperson always striving to compensate for that insecurity.
If a person predominately experiences inadequacy in one particular area, then the remedy will be a single element like Phosphorus or Silica. If there are two predominant themes, they may need a salt such as Sodium chloride or Potassium sulphate. Although it is often very difficult to discern, there can be more than two themes and there certainly are many homeopathic remedies that derive from quite complex substances of many different elements.
As an example, nitroglycerine is used in both conventional and homeopathic medicine. Conventionally, it is mostly prescribed in the form of a patch as a preventative treatment for angina. As the source for the homeopathic remedy ‘Glonoine’, it is best known for its efficacy in treating hypertensive attacks, sunstroke, bursting headaches and other powerful congestive phenomena of the head.
With a chemical composition of C3 H5 (NO3) O3, it is quite difficult to identify all the individual qualities and interrelationships of the 4 different elements from a homeopathic perspective. What we do know is that the explosive nitrogen element seems to define its action with the other elements somehow modifying it. Thus, its selection as a remedy would be based on the symptomatic state of the patient and not a perception of 4 distinct themes.
TRAINS - VI
So, homeopathic mineral remedies, the members of each row and each column share certain qualities which can be summarized into themes. The individual themes of the rows 1 to 7 bear a very clear, developmental relationship to each other. The same can be said for the columns. Taken as a whole, the 100+ homeopathic remedies of the periodic table exhibit a clear, continuous and stepwise developmental evolution from the first to the last.
With this type of systematic overview, the homeopath determines that a patient is in need of a mineral remedy of a specific row and a specific column. This will then yield the appropriate remedy. In actual practice, this process can become more complicated when themes of multiple rows and columns show up. This indicates that the patient is in need of a mineral salt, that is a substance that is formed by the union of two mineral elements.
As something of an aside, it is remarkable, on reflection, how the structure of the Periodic Table was foreshadowed by the work of Chinese philosophers many thousands of years ago. In the I Ching, one of the paramount treatises passed down to us, it is state that “the Supreme Ultimate (T'ai Chi)... produced the Two Forms (yin and yang). These Two Forms produced the four emblems (Szu-Hsiang), and these four emblems produced the eight trigrams (Pa Kua)...” (A Brief History of the I Chin, http://www.tryskelion.com/) The eight trigrams, when combined in all possible combinations then yield 64 hexagrams.
In Chinese culture, these principles are applicable to everything from divination to medicine to the martial arts. The Supreme Ultimate is the primordial unity, without shape or form, from which all matter derives. Yin and Yang, so familiar to us today, are its first derivatives, the first principle of matter. From these 2 elements come 4, and then 8 , finally arriving at 64. In Chinese culture, these principles are applicable to everything from divination to medicine to the martial arts.
While the numbers certainly are not exactly the same, the parallel with the Periodic Table is unmistakable. It begins in the first row with only 2 elements, Hydrogen and Helium, which are the most basic forms of matter. The second and third rows both have 8 elements, the fourth and fifth have 18, and the sixth and seventh have 31 and 30 respectively.
Homeopathically, the theme of the first row is simply ‘existence’ and in its two elements one sees a struggle whether to be here or not. The Hydrogen state that is for a person needing the remedy Hydrogen, there is a strong ambivalence, which on the one hand pulls them, to participate in mundane physical plane and on the other pulls them to return to the primordial unity. People needing this remedy tend to have very strong inclinations to discover and experience that oneness through spiritual pursuits coupled with a sense of isolation and disconnection from much of daily existence. Helium, as the second and last member of this row, has less of a pull to inhabit a physical form and is content to be unrealized and unnoticed as a person.
The second Row or series proceeds to the next stage, the struggle to exist as an independent individual. It introduces the notion of separation, which in essence is the separation from the mother through the birth process and immediately afterward. The 8 remedies in this row represent the spectrum of stages in this process, beginning with Lithium on the left where the birth process has not begun, the unborn child is not separated from the mother at all, and there is a terror of the consequences of being born, being alone and cut off.
Carbon, which is in the center of this row and is considered to be its most representative element, is the point at which the child is born and faces the challenge of reacting to the world as an individual. By definition, carbon is present in all organic compounds and in that sense is fundamental to life as we know it. The struggle for the person needing carbon homeopathically is whether they have the vitality and capacity to react to the external world now that they are independent.
It might be evident by now that from the homeopathic perspective each mineral remedy is applicable to a certain stage in life and when properly prescribed assists a person to resolves the struggles and conflicts that arise from this stage. It is fascinating and actually quite profound to witness how individuals who seek treatment for specific physical illnesses experience an amelioration of symptoms and a curative response when they are given a remedy based on these more fundamental issues.
‘Just as certainly as every kind of plant is different from every other family and species of plant in its outer form, in the particular way in which it lives and grows, in its taste and smell; just as certainly as every mineral and every salt is different from every other in its external as well as its inner physical and chemical properties (which in itself should have prevented all confusion among them), so also it is certain that these plants and minerals are all different and distinct from each other in their pathogenic and therefore curative effects”. - Samuel Hahnemann, founder of Homeopathy, “Organon of Medicine”, Aphorism 119. First published 1810. Translated by Kunzli, Naude & Pendelton. 1982.
The development of the columns can be illustrated by looking at the third row, which has a theme of establishing individuality. The question is no longer whether to exist or not (Row 1), nor is it about the capacity to separate from the mother (Row 2). It is about developing a sense of self in the world.
The element in the first column on the left, sodium, has no sense of self at all and therefore is quite needy of forming relationships with others and is quite susceptible to the feeling of loneliness. (Interestingly, the element itself almost always is found as a salt and not as a pure element itself.) . The next element over in the second column, magnesium begins to have a sense of self, an awareness of the possibility being in the world as an individual. But this prospect is also quite terrifying.
Moving over to the middle of the row, the 10th column, we find the element Silica which has a very clear image of self and is determined to maintain that image. They rigidly hold onto this image and sensitive to losing it, which in turn makes them quite fragile. Moving further to the right, the elements have a increasing sense of self with is accompanied by a growing sense of feeling different and being oppressed by others. For instance, the remedy Sulphur which is found in the 16th column, is known for its highly developed ego and pride, and its sensitivity to not being appreciated by others.
The sphere of the Fourth Row widens from concerns about the individual to being in the larger world. The main issue is being safe in this world and securing a protective environment. This is mainly seen in the need for strong family bonds as well as focusing on work.
In the Fifth Row, the concept of security is resolved and is replaced with a drive to explore, understand and to contribute something original to the world. It is the realm of the new, creativity and adventure - artists, musicians, intellectuals and philosophers.
Remembering back to our old friend the biochemist, Dr. Ahmad, it is easy to understand that this is his world. He spoke of “the excitement of discovering something, of doing something new, of thinking about all the possibilities”. His highly developed creativity would place him near the center of the row, perhaps the remedy Rhodium
Beyond creative exploration of the world is the Sixth Row, where the individual is compelled to assert command and control. This is the row of power, authority. Like the ancient Chinese recognized several millennia ago, with power comes responsibility: the Emperor’s mandate from Heaven was to rule, but it must be done in a responsible, just fashion or else the Emperor’s reign will end in calamity. Successful sixth row persons do tend to be persons in high positions, heading governments and other organizations.
The Seventh Row is not yet as well understood as the previous six, but the theme is decline and destruction. It is in this row that we find the radioactive elements, with their well known destructive capabilities. The row represents the “denouement”, or resolution of this journey through being.
n practice, it is a bit more complicated because one has to determine whether the person needs a mineral remedy to begin with, and, if they do, whether they need a single mineral or a combination of minerals.
But let’s look a slightly abbreviated description of real case to see how it works:
Michael is 57 years old who sought treatment for psoriasis. When asked to give further details about symptoms, he said that while it itches, that isn’t what really bothers him. “It is disfiguring. That pisses me off. I’m getting older already and do I need this, too?” He went to explain how ugly it looked and how embarrassing it is. Luckily, it is still mostly in places where it can be covered up, but he is concerned that it will spread to places that can’t be hidden so easily.
“I’ve never been happy with my legs. They are really skinny, and I was made fun of about them. People called me “polio legs”, “chicken legs”. They were ugly and that was just ‘garlic in the wound’”.
I asked Michael to tell me more about disfigurement. “It is out of control. I’m falling apart and this is a reminder. It is evidence for it... I’m getting older, its the aging process and impending death. I’ve been afraid of dying since I was a kid, and even more so since I turned 50. I get depressed with the futility of life. I’m happy with myself, and don’t want to be a kid or even in my 30s or 40s. But if I get infirm, I’ll not be able to get around. And I don’t want to die without getting accomplished what I had hoped”.
Michael had already given me some important information by this point. The drift of his conversation went from psoriasis to disfigurement, to falling apart to dying. For him the issue wasn’t about how his disease made him feel, but that it was evidence that he was falling apart. He sees the world in terms of structure or his lack of it. This is the way a person needing a mineral remedy speaks.
I asked Michael to tell me more about ‘infirmity’. To be infirm would limit me, I wouldn’t be able to fend for myself and I’d lose control of my life. Now, I come and go as I please. I’m my own boss. I don’t want to be confined or disabled.”
Again, he confirms his mineral nature because he is concerned about his capabilities in terms of limits and disability. But in what arena does he perceive his capabilities or lack of them?
I’m a scientist, an iconoclast who goes against the mainstream. I criticize people and can be tough. I get irritable because I don’t get the respect I desire.”
Michael used to like talking back and being disruptive in school. “I like to exert my will, to outwit my teachers. It was fun - stimulating and a challenge trying to come up with a new or better idea.”
So, now we have a hint about what kind of mineral he is - one who seeks out the new, who is challenged by ideas.
I asked him to tell more about ‘new or better ideas’. “I like starting or coming up with something new. I like ideas, learning new stuff, new projects. That is one of the reasons I like confrontation. It generates new ideas. Science is all about new thoughts and new things. It is intellectual interplay and having an impact.”
“But the problem is people (in authority) aren’t always interested. They don’t see the value in it. So, I’ll feel inadequate because I don’t have any impact.”
“I like being different, coming up with an alternate theory, a new perspective. If people resist that theory, I begin to feel I am on a crusade. Screw them - I’ll do my thing and won’t try to change their minds”.
“This is the opposite of another repetitive dream I had where I am trying to hit someone and it just turns out to be a little tap. It is a matter of efficacy versus inefficacy.”
So, here is our grid - let’s choose a remedy.
For the rows, each one has a theme: Row 1 = issues relating to being in the world, existence. Row 2 = issues relating to existing as a separate entity in the world. Row 3 = issues relating to establishing an identity in the world. Row 4 = issues relating to being safe and secure in the world. Row 5 = issues relating to adventuring out to explore the new & creative. Row 6 = issues relating to exercising power & control in the world. Row 7 = issues relating to death & destruction.
The columns reflect the degree of innate capacity. On the left side of the grid there is a total lack of capacity. Moving toward the center, the capacity increases and reaches its highest degree at the center of the of the table (around columns 9 and 10). Past this point, moving further to the right, the capacity dissipates and finally reaches total collapse.
Clearly, the remedy must come from the 5th Row - exploring the new and creative. As for the column, it seemed that it must be one that has a great deal of capacity but has not quite reached the top. He is someone who is taking on a challenge and resisting any opposition that to his endeavors. This is the theme of the 8th Column.
Five down and eight across: the remedy chosen was the mineral Ruthenium. Six months later, Michael reports that the psoriasis is 80 to 90% better and still improving. (A very mineral-like evaluation.)